ECB ‘line up replacement venue for England Test’ if Yorkshire don’t make reforms

Hampshire's Ageas Bowl has reportedly been lined up by the ECB as a contingency plan to host England 's third Test against New Zealand this summer if Yorkshire members do not approve a series of reforms by the end of the month.

The ECB suspended Yorkshire from hosting "international or major matches" back in November in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal but provisionally lifted it just three months later. At the time, they said the decision was conditional on reforms being passed by the club's members at an extraordinary general meeting.

However, there has been opposition to the reforms led by former chairman Robin Smith, who has successfully managed to get the EGM postponed twice. The meeting has been rescheduled for March 31 and, should reforms not be passed, the Daily Mail report that the ECB will not lift the ban.

Yorkshire's Headingley stadium is set to host two England matches next year, the New Zealand Test and a one-day international against South Africa. However, the report states that the ECB has 'run a tender process to find new hosts if they revoke Headingley's international status'.

And it is claimed that the Ageas Bowl is set to host the New Zealand Test should Yorkshire's members vote against the reforms. Former Yorkshire chairman and ex-ECB chief Colin Graves, whose family trust is said to be owed £15m by the county, has publicly backed the changes.

"As a Yorkshire vice-president and member I have voted to support the changes as outlined by YCCC to its members," Graves told BBC Sport. "I really hope that the legal advice taken by the club on these issues is sound and solid.

"The club now needs to move on, and get back to staging International matches and playing cricket at the highest level in England and Wales. The talent that Yorkshire continues to produce is outstanding, as shown in the recent West Indies Test match where four out of 11 players came through the Yorkshire academy."

A spokesperson for the ECB said: "The ECB board is deeply concerned about reports of division at Yorkshire CCC. Given all that we have heard from Azeem and others about the club, it has been absolutely clear that reform is needed.

Lord Patel has set out a significant and serious plan to make Yorkshire CCC a modern and diverse club capable of representing and engaging all communities in Yorkshire. We want to see all parties work together to support

"Lord Patel in the reform package he has set out. It is not acceptable for anyone to stand in the way of progress at YCCC."

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